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Bladder cancer: clinical and pathological profile.

Bladder tumours represent a heterogeneous group of cancers. The natural history of these bladder cancers is that of recurrence of disease and progression to higher grade and stage disease. Furthermore, recurrence and progression rates of superficial bladder cancer vary according to several tumour characteristics, mainly tumour grade and stage. The most recent World Health Organization (WHO) classification of tumours of the urinary system includes urothelial flat lesions: flat hyperplasia, dysplasia and carcinoma in situ. The papillary lesions are broadly subdivided into benign (papilloma and inverted papilloma), papillary urothelial neoplasia of low malignant potential (PUNLMP) and non-invasive papillary carcinoma (low or high grade). The initial proposal of the 2004 WHO has been achieved, with most reports supporting that categories are better defined than in previous classifications. An additional important issue is that PUNLMP, the most controversial proposal of the WHO in 2004, has lower malignant behaviour than low-grade carcinoma. Whether PUNLMP remains a clinically useful category, or whether this category should be expanded to include all low-grade, stage Ta lesions (PUNLMP and low-grade papillary carcinoma) as a wider category of less aggressive tumours not labelled as cancer, needs to be discussed in the near future. This article summarizes the recent literature concerning important issues in the pathology and the clinical management of patients with bladder urothelial carcinoma. Emphasis is placed on clinical presentation, the significance of haematuria, macroscopic appearance (papillary, solid or mixed, single or multiple) and synchronous or metachronous presentation (field disease vs monoclonal disease with seeding), classification and microscopic variations of bladder cancer with clinical significance, TNM distribution and the pathological grading according to the 2004 WHO proposal.

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